Animal Aid

Kill it, Cook it, Eat it

Posted 15 January 2008

The BBC3 programme Kill it, Cook it, Eat it was back on television screens last week following the plight of lambs, piglets, calves and kid goats slaughtered for the dinner table. The series aimed to show the nation just how young some animals in the meat industry are when they are sent for slaughter. In fact, most farmed animals are just weeks or months old when their lives are brutally cut short.

Amongst the youngsters slaughtered on the programme were lambs, some only 26 days old. The link below allows you to watch the programme again, in which the incompetence of stunning is clearly shown. The slaughtermen use electric tongs. They are applied to the side of the head, sending an electrical current through the brain, which is supposed to render the animal unconscious. As seen on the programme, this method fails on the very first lamb, and she makes a dash for freedom after the electrical current has been applied. Some scientists have questioned whether electrical head-only stunning does, in fact, induce a state of unconsciousness. Studies have shown that electrically stunned sheep have periods of responsiveness when they are fully aware of their surroundings and what is happening to them. Some experts believe that animals are simply ‘frozen’ and are, therefore, fully conscious when their throats are cut.

Although the scenes of slaughter seen on Kill it, Cook it, Eat it are extremely gruesome, this is a sanitised version of the killing process and less care is taken in real slaughterhouses where many more animals come though much quicker. Workers, paid on piece-rate, have an incentive to work fast. They also quickly become desensitised to the animals’ suffering. In a busy slaughterhouse environment, stunning equipment is all too often incorrectly positioned, and sheep (and pigs) escape the grasp of the stunning tongs. A too-brief application of the tongs may give the animals a painful electric shock rather than stunning them, resulting in them being conscious when their throats are cut.

Although a vet was present at the killing of each animal on the programme, in a genuine slaughterhouse environment this is not the case. Official Veterinary Surgeons (OVS) are required to be present only for part of the day and are compelled to observe slaughter no more than once a day. Obviously, if a vet is not present at the end of the day, tired workers may let the welfare of the animals lapse.

There is no humane method of killing an animal. Those who truly care about animals don’t eat them.

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